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YouTube and Netflix slash video quality in UK, EU amid coronavirus outbreak


System's getting overwhelmed

Photo by Stefano Guidi/Getty Images

YouTube and Netflix will temporarily reduce video quality in the United Kingdom and European Union amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

The move is said to prevent users from overwhelming the internet with streaming requests and will run for at least 30 days, according to Newsweek.

What are the details?

On Friday, YouTube — which is owned by Google — announced that the decision was made to ensure "smooth functioning of the internet" during a time of worldwide crisis.

The move will also free up internet bandwidth for employees telecommuting to their places of employment.

A spokesperson for the company told Newsweek, "While we have seen only a few usage peaks, we have measures in place to automatically adjust our system to use less network capacity."

"Following the meeting by Google's CEO, Sundar Pichai, YouTube's CEO, Susan Wojcicki, and [E.U.] Commissioner [Theirry] Breton, we are making a commitment to temporarily default all traffic in the EU to Standard Definition," the spokesperson added. "We will continue working with member state governments and network operators to minimize stress on the system, while also delivering a good user experience."

Netflix issued similar directives in the area on Thursday.

In a statement, the company said, "We estimate this will reduce Netflix traffic on European networks by around 25 percent while also ensuring a good quality service for our members."

What else?

Breton hailed the move in a statement.

"Millions of Europeans are adapting to social distancing measures thanks to digital platforms, helping them to telework, e-learn, and entertain themselves," he said. "I warmly welcome the initiative that Google has taken to preserve the smooth functioning of the internet during the COVID-19 crisis by having YouTube switch all E.U. traffic to Standard Definition by default. ... We will closely follow the evolution of the situation together."

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